by UnHerd
Tuesday, 19
January 2021
Idea
18:03

Get ready for the age of long lockdowns

Firmly entrenched as a public policy tool, lockdowns loom long into our futures
by UnHerd
Has the third lockdown made a difference to infection rates? Credit: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Long Covid’ refers to the symptoms that some people suffer many months after infection with SARS-CoV-2. It is not a straightforward continuation of the initial crisis — indeed many of the symptoms are completely different.

Looking ahead, we need to prepare for a parallel between the disease and the public policies designed to control its spread. Just as there’s a long Covid there will be a long lockdown.

Vaccination should mean an end to the lockdowns we’ve experienced so far. Step by step, life will return to normal. Households will be allowed to mix again. Schools, shops, pubs and restaurants will re-open. We might even stop wearing masks.

But there’s a catch: the threat of new variants. Even if vaccination stops the spread of Covid in a particular country, there’s the rest of the world to worry about. If the virus continues to spread and mutate elsewhere, there’s a danger that we’ll import a new variant against which our vaccines are less effective.

Therefore, expect massive public pressure for ongoing restrictions on cross-border travel. Australia doesn’t expect to fully reopen its borders this year — not even if most of its population is vaccinated. In the Republic of Ireland, a recent poll found 90% support for quarantining anyone entering the country.

It’s not that we don’t want things to go back to the way they were — in fact, we’re desperate for them to do so. But that’s precisely why we’ll be so protective of the progress that we do make. Hence, the likelihood of long lockdown aimed at locking out any resurgence of the disease.

For most people, the long lockdown will much easier to bear than the crisis lockdowns we’ve come to know and hate. However, there’s one thing that will be worse about the successor regime — it will be more divisive.

It’s not that the current restrictions have had precisely equal effect across society. Clearly, some people have suffered a lot more than others. But just about everyone has had their lives disrupted. It may be a cliché, but we really are in the same boat.

Not so with the long lockdown. The rules will be targeted against some people so that most people can enjoy normality. Yes, foreign holidays will be difficult — and perhaps impossible — for everyone; but the burden will fall heaviest on those for whom international travel was an integral part of their lives. The much talked about divide between the ‘somewheres’ and ‘anywheres’ will become a lot sharper. If your normal life was lived in more than one country, then the long lockdown will prevent not protect a return to normality.

Another divide that the long lockdown might open up is between the vaccinated and non-vaccinated. The latter are likely to face restrictions that the former don’t. Indeed, discrimination could be a deliberate instrument of policy if achieving herd immunity is deemed to be compromised by the refuseniks.

This is less likely to happen in countries like the UK were the great majority of people want to get vaccinated, but it could be real issue in countries like France where they don’t.

In summary, the long lockdown will be very different — and for the most part much better — than what we have to put up with now. However, until the pandemic ends everywhere, there will be consequences.

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Mauricio Estrela
Mauricio Estrela
1 year ago

I can only read this sarcastically. The words “new normal” seem more and more deliberately chosen, as people indeed are getting used to live under restrictions never imagined before. All in the name of fear and unquestioning obedience, regardless the real effectiveness and consequences of lockdowns (or the need for them at any sign of a new variant).

I wonder when “we need to flatten the curve” turned into “we need to have zero cases and prevent from any dangers in the world, no matter the cost”. Heck, then we better never go out again, drive any car, go to parties, have sex or, of course, protest. Those are just too dangerous for society because people can die, spread diseases or get injured.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

‘It may be a cliché, but we really are in the same boat.’

No we are not and what an absurdly inaccurate claim to make. If you work for the eternally useless and grasping state you are laughing. If you don’t, there is a good chance that you are crying, probably for the rest of your life and to an early grave.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Yes, we need an Oliver Cromwell, and a very sharp axe.

William Cameron
William Cameron
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Tell that to your ambulance driver . your Policeman breaking up a covid party- the ICU nurse coming off shift.

Kelly Mitchell
Kelly Mitchell
1 year ago

My friend is a nurse in HFX, Nova Scotia. Said the ICU’s are empty. Zero covid cases.

Duncan Hunter
Duncan Hunter
1 year ago

Your teachers’ unions, civil servants…add these to your list of people the state won’t be able to pay when the economy is finally run into the ground.

We all need to wake up and grow up. So many boats have already sailed in the last year that it is impossible and absurd to insist we are all in the same one.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago

Like every other cult, the Covidians are not going to give up their dogma easily. In the meantime, the cascade of economic forces previously unleashed will intensify, while the elected class insists its path is the righteous one.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

A good word ‘Covidians’.
The Covidians of Quislington, otherwise known as the ‘enemy’

queensrycherule
queensrycherule
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Branch Covidian is a great adjective, accurately describing the communist doomsday cult

Warren Alexander
Warren Alexander
1 year ago

The simplest answer to all this is a permanent lockdown. Everyone will then feel safe, the government can control all forms of risk and no-one will ever die or get ill.

Suze Burtenshaw
Suze Burtenshaw
1 year ago

Don’t give them ideas…

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
1 year ago

Even with the smallest of flaws I like your plan and have upvoted you.

What’s that? You want to know what the flaw is. OK – who’s going to deliver my food parcel?

William Gladstone
William Gladstone
1 year ago

The pandemic ended last year, we have herd immunity already in all liklihood, there is no proof lockdowns work in fact its far more likly that they kill far more than they cure, variants are a normal thing in coronaviruses and oh well done for embracing our new fascist regime “Unherd” I certainly hope you will be renaming the site to head of the herd.

Colin Haller
Colin Haller
1 year ago

This is a strange assertion to make while nations are struggling to vaccinate their populations as fast as they possibly can.

William Gladstone
William Gladstone
1 year ago
Reply to  Colin Haller

Yes why are they doing that for a virus where the average age of death is 83 a year more than by all other causes and that 99%+ of us will survive.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago

Indeed, discrimination could be a deliberate instrument of policy if achieving herd immunity is deemed to be compromised by the refuseniks.
What could possibly go wrong? It is amazing how govt-forced discrimination is okay, but don’t you proles dare try it.

Dave Smith
Dave Smith
1 year ago

The use of the word refuseniks is telling. Is it to prepare the compliant to ‘other ‘ our fellow citizens. To reduce them to second class status?
That is a dangerous road to travel. We know where it leads.
This is one of those key historic events that do not really show the effects for two to three years. Then all hell usually breaks loose and those that will dictate the future come to prominence from the obscurity where they now are.

Stan Glib
Stan Glib
1 year ago

we need to prepare

We might even stop wearing masks

It’s not that we don’t want things to go back to the way they were

we really are in the same boat

we’ll be so protective of the progress that we do make

than what we have to put up with now

What is this nebulous, shapeshifting we? The Unherd team? The UK? Humans? And what Progress? Whose Progress?

I can’t even discern the point of this ominous yet fluffy post. Is your point that ‘the world changes‘?

Many have known that pandemics would eventually come round and cause all sorts of disruption. The 7.6 billion inhabitants of the planet will each respond in their own way. Internally conflicted families, groups, organisations and governments across the world will muddle and bicker their way through as best they can. Some will fare well, others won’t. Inequality will rise even further. And so on.

Anyone pinning their hopes on a return to ‘normalcy’ will likely be very disappointed… I mean quite clearly that isn’t happening.

I’m sure the comments section will soon be full of great suggestions about What We Ought To Be Doing (presumably referring to the aforementioned We)

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
1 year ago
Reply to  Stan Glib

…we ought to be doing what people have done in Italy…

Tim Bartlett
Tim Bartlett
1 year ago

Maybe the non-vaccinated could be identified by some sort of symbol they would be forced to wear?

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  Tim Bartlett

Tattooed on the forehead with the letters NV?

Tim Bartlett
Tim Bartlett
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

I couldn’t believe I was reading that 3rd from last paragraph. I wish the young would grow a backbone and fight for their own interests.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  Tim Bartlett

The ‘young’ seem to have willingly disenfranchised themselves on the one hand, hence the pathetic 72% turnout for the Brexit Referendum.

On the other hand, polls seem to indicate they are baying for even stricter
Lockdown restrictions, yet do they not know the average age of a UK C-19 death is over 82!

The young are unlikely now to, as you say, “grow a backbone”, because this is the way ‘we’ have made them.
All very disappointing.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

Yes, I keep reading this in every blog. The youth are weak, who should we blame? The Boomers!! So the old blame the youth and the youth blame the Boomers.

In fact, to risk attack from feminists, the fault is with the contraceptive pill. Before the pill, men and women got together and, miraculously, a baby came along. That baby was like collateral damage. The family carried on and the baby/child became just a family member, nothing more.

Today, you make a very responsible decision to have a baby and when it comes along it is the most precious thing on the earth – which has to be cossetted and protected, given anything. But he/she has to be told, over and over again that he/she is the most important person in the world.

If you grow up thinking that, you don’t care about anything else apart from yourself. You sit in a room, you don’t play football because it is unsafe, you can’t decide whether to be male or female in case you are wrong. You are not rich so anyone who earns more money is bad. All of the world is evil.

Then you get a job writing for the Guardian.

Pauline Ivison
Pauline Ivison
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

🤣🤣👍thank you. I needed cheering up.

Hilary LW
Hilary LW
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Yes, the weird paradox of children being cosseted and fussed over on the one hand, yet on the other hand routinely ignored/ emotionally neglected (unprepared for adult life). Maybe something to do with children being regarded as prize acquisitions, status symbols or lifestyle choices, rather than real people who will shape the future of the world.
It’s the double-edged sword of being given unprecedented choices. We’re almost guaranteed to mess something up. Scientists have the power to manipulate DNA, to choose to modify fundamental biology to suit our purposes – and lo and behold, there are unintended and uncertain consequences.
Seems we haven’t learnt much from taking the fruit of the tree of knowledge: still seduced into believing we can become like gods.

eleanorhazleton
eleanorhazleton
1 year ago
Reply to  Hilary LW

As Ivan Ilyich wrote many years ago – (to paraphrase) ‘just because we can do something does not mean we should be doing it’.
He also said that “we have lost the art of dying”

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

I wrote a long answer to you but it was deleted and I don’t know why? Basically that children are considered to be precious and are cossetted – taught that they are the most important people in the world. Then it is difficult to be concerned about other people.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

More than a century ago the redoubtable Frenchman, Georges Clemenceau said :
“America is the only nation in history which miraculously has gone directly from barbarism to degeneration without the usual interval of civilisation.”

He should have included ‘us’ in that astute observation.

Seb Dakin
Seb Dakin
1 year ago
Reply to  Tim Bartlett

More sinister would be the vaccinated being given a chip, you know, just to speed up procedures at airports etc. Non-vaccinated would have to wait in a queue. The vaccination and the chip would be entirely voluntary of course, save you time and trouble, sir. Won’t hurt a bit.

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
1 year ago
Reply to  Tim Bartlett

A tattoo on their arm? Or what about a badge, that’d be more visual, or/and carry a bell?

Duncan Hunter
Duncan Hunter
1 year ago

The mark of Cain? Scarlet letter? Yellow star?

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
1 year ago
Reply to  Tim Bartlett

Hmmm…perhaps a sew-on patch or something….?

Meghan Kathleen Jamieson
Meghan Kathleen Jamieson
1 year ago

I have a hard time feeling too badly for those who “live their lives in more than one country.” That was always going to be a short-lived privilege for most of humanity.

eleanorhazleton
eleanorhazleton
1 year ago

I certainly am not rich, living on a state pension (with no other means or savings). However, for health reasons I spend winters in Sicily and since the cost of living is much cheaper I save money as well as being healthier, thus helping our health service

Samir Zulfiquar
Samir Zulfiquar
1 year ago

Media: openly announces the dawn of a new dystopian order
Ordinary Person: gets angry
Media: calls them a conspiracy theorist

The Establishment is constructing a nightmare dystopia in broad daylight.

WAKE UP BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
1 year ago

Another .gov funded article softening us up for the return to normality [sic]

Clare Webber
Clare Webber
1 year ago

Wouldn’t the survivors of a serious bout of covid rather return to the old normal society than to the threatened new normal? Death might seem preferable to that.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  Clare Webber

It is very easy to talk about death in this way – so long as somebody else is doing the dying.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

If you are convinced of an after life what is the problem?
As Professor Peter Fenwick says, if nothing else “be curious”.

William MacDougall
William MacDougall
1 year ago

Sad, but probably true that many want Fascism…

Glyn Reed
Glyn Reed
1 year ago

So long as it’s Covid secure and they can feel safe.

William Cameron
William Cameron
1 year ago

What will determine what happens is how the politicians (who we elected) act. If we make sensible allowances for human error and ensure they have adequate resource we should be fine.
If however we have a media seeking to find fault with everything every day – then the politicians will act accordingly and be hugely risk averse.
For example – The NHS needs to be rethought. The UK should learn from European countries like Germany with lower death rates. No centralised national monopoly body there- but regionally segmented and largely privately provided health services (available to all). Their model – not one run by an unqualified minister- had more ICU beds per capita more doctors per capita and half the deaths per cap[ita.( It cost 11.0% of GDP. The NHs costs 9.5% GDP) . But would the media let the politicians make such a change ? But without a change lockdowns to “protect the NHS” are inevitable.

Elizabeth Cronin
Elizabeth Cronin
1 year ago

The US, like Germany is a federalist system. We have well over 331m people. The pundits hear argue that a ‘national monopoly’ approach is the approach we need to take. And leaving it to the states for a regional approach has been a disaster. I give Germany as the opposing example. Unfortunately it falls on deaf ears and they reiterate we need a national approach. The national policy people want is what we’ve had in CA – because we’ve done such a great job. Meanwhile CA is hemorrhaging tech industries as they seek new homes in those states with a ‘disaster approach.’

Dave Tagge
Dave Tagge
1 year ago

“Another divide that the long lockdown might open up is between the vaccinated and non-vaccinated.”

If there’s a divide, I suspect that this will be it. That may be the requirement to avoid quarantine (or at least a cumbersome testing regime) when entering a country or returning to one’s home country. It may perhaps even be the requirement to cross borders in most cases.

Other than that, I think that there will be a fair amount of economic pressure to open borders to travel.

I don’t see Australia as a great example, because it’s in a different place quantitatively and, I think, psychologically, than many other countries. They’ve apparently had very little spread of COVID (less than 1,000 reported deaths in a country of ~25 million). Australia is therefore relying almost entirely on vaccinations with very little natural immunity. I also suspect that the population is conditioned to view as high numbers what would seem like low levels of reported COVID confirmed cases and deaths for the Americas and Western Europe.

Jeff Andrews
Jeff Andrews
1 year ago

What a great era to be ‘working’ for the govt, with everybody else paying for as long as a govt can print money and/or people are dumb enough to lend to them.
Half at least want sacking without any notice or redundancy and the public sector unions and various health authorities (unions) want dealing with like the NUM. And I’d put Boris Johnson and co in the Tower awaiting suitable punishments.

john davies
john davies
1 year ago

We are all in this situation because the UK didn’t close the borders 12 months ago (& actually brought people back from infectious hot-spots, then let them wander around without quarantine).

We then put Covid victims into care-homes while infectious.

Results –

UK – open borders with several lockdowns,
~ 80,000 deaths = 0.125% of population

Taiwan – closed borders immediately, No lockdowns;
total 7 deaths = 0.000003% of pop

New Zealand – closed borders a bit later, Several
lockdowns; 25 deaths = 0.0005% of pop

( For context, population density’s person/km2.
UK = 278.67 ; Taiwan = 651; New Zealand = 17.87 )

Early isolation is the first & most effective defense against a virus.

Jan 2021: UK has now just implemented a partial border closing !!

Closing stable door after Horse bolted

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  john davies

What about the theory of South East Asian naturally increased immunity, due to historically incessant ‘Corona’ type virus attacks?

Obviously NZ is different, perhaps like Belarus?

Kelly Mitchell
Kelly Mitchell
1 year ago

“If the virus continues to spread and mutate elsewhere, there’s a danger that we’ll import a new variant against which our vaccines are less effective.”

FI:XED: If the elites deem Covid 1984 useful for exerting further controls over the population, there will be (a model about) a new (potential) variant rampaging and killing millions just like the first (model) C-1984.
And they will deem it so.

Joe Reed
Joe Reed
1 year ago

What the hell is this?

Nick Whitehouse
Nick Whitehouse
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe Reed

Get with the times.
It used to be called hell.
But, now it is the new normal. The word hell is now banned.

Glyn Reed
Glyn Reed
1 year ago

lol

Brian Newman
Brian Newman
1 year ago

Just accept the world has changed

Brian Newman
Brian Newman
1 year ago

World

E. E.
E. E.
1 year ago

Is Unherd really behind this piece? I don’t believe it! This is precisely the kind of article that made me abandon my traditional sources of news.

Disappointing!

Colin Haller
Colin Haller
1 year ago
Reply to  E. E.

You can find echo chambers more congenial to your views elsewhere you know.

Derek M
Derek M
1 year ago

Disappointed to see Unherd advocating authoritarianism

gardner.peter.d
gardner.peter.d
1 year ago

“Australia doesn’t expect to fully reopen its borders this year ” not even if most of its population is vaccinated.”
That is not what Brendan Murphy said, which was:
“”Even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated, we don’t know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus,” he said, adding that he believed quarantine requirements for travellers would continue “for some time”.

Nobody knows how well the vaccines will work in practice. Australia has very good control of the virus by non-pharmaceutical interventions (lockdowns and restrictions). That is one reason why it has chosen to delay vaccination. Another is to watch and learn from the introduction of vaccination in other countries. Third, the impact of lockdowns on the economy was low because the lockdowns were effective, so it is not urgent for Australia.
Another reason is probably because, unlike in UK, there is not widespread rebellion against lockdowns. Obviously, no matter how well designed restrictions may be, if a minority of people choose to ignore them, the virus will get out of control. It can be controlled only if everyone complies with restrictions.

sharon johnson
sharon johnson
1 year ago

What ever happened to ‘herd immunity’? We’ve relied on that to guide us fairly safely through the yearly influenza. By isolating ourselves we’re no more immune to Covid 19 than we were last spring.